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Ten of Tomorrow: Miki Berardelli, Tory Burch

As chief marketing officer, executive has helped position the brand as one of the most innovative fashion companies in the digital arena.

“I love how quickly the landscape changes,” said Miki Berardelli, chief marketing officer of Tory Burch. “I’ve always been drawn to digital and what’s next.”

This story first appeared in the May 29, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The digital world is an arena where Burch is one of the most innovative fashion companies around. The brand has never advertised but builds brand awareness via Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, video and its own Web site. It will launch its first ad campaign in October for its fragrance with Estée Lauder Cos.

Burch began in February 2004 with a store on Elizabeth Street in New York and a Web site. Today, it operates a wholesale and e-commerce business and 84 freestanding stores globally, generating close to $1 billion in retail sales, according to sources.

Berardelli, who oversees marketing, public relations and e-commerce globally, explained that the company grew up alongside the rise of the digital age and there was never a hurdle to embracing the new landscape.

“Stores and e-commerce were always at the forefront of the strategy,” she said. “We’ve never experienced silos or channel conflict. The customer moves between them every day and sees Tory Burch as one brand. We work hard to understand what each channel does best for the customer. Digital is infused throughout the organization.

“We’re on many different platforms and treat each one differently,” she continued. “Instead of creating content and blasting out the same content across all of our social media platforms, we actually say, what’s best for Tumblr, what’s best for Pinterest.”

Berardelli, who’s also chairman of shop.org, the digital division of the National Retail Federation, is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a master’s degree in communication from Northwestern University. She started her career in Chicago at marketing communications firm McMillan Associates, where she developed her interest in database marketing. She then joined Direct Marketing Technology (now Experion North America), where she worked with such catalogue firms as J. Crew, Crate & Barrel and Bloomingdale’s by Mail.

“When e-commerce came about, it was an easy jump for me,” she said. “It was just a different medium. The rules of direct marketing were sort of the same.”

In 2002, she moved to Polo Ralph Lauren, working on the e-commerce business. “I was very focused on the customer and how the customer moves between channels,” she said. “I took on more of a multichannel role,” and ended up as senior vice president of the Polo Retail Group, where she worked with the designer’s stores, ralphlauren.com, factory stores, Rugby and rugby.com.

Berardelli joined Burch in 2009.

“I think what’s unique to Tory was the opportunity to build something because the company was so young,” she said. “The company will be 10 years old in February and I’ve been here nearly four years. There was a lot to do. I was drawn to the agility. The company is patient when it comes to decision making but moves very quickly, especially when it comes to building a brand and entering new markets. Everything is a team effort, so I have done nothing by myself.”

Tory Burch, chief executive officer and designer of Tory Burch LLC, said, “Miki is extremely smart and innovative — a truly valued member of our executive team. She has been instrumental in the growth of our brand, helping to build our e-commerce business and driving our digital strategy internationally.”

Berardelli worked with the team to reengineer the e-commerce business and the Web site. She also collaborated on pulling the commerce and the content together online. The team integrated The Tory Blog into a shopping experience on the Web site. The Web site is the number-one store and growing quickly, and expanding the e-commerce business internationally has been one of her key accomplishments.

“We’re shipping into 30 countries. We launched our European e-commerce business late last year so we are fully operational in France, Italy, Germany and the U.K.,” said Berardelli.

Burch also has a Japanese e-commerce site. The team has developed an app called Tory Daily, which leverages the brand’s blog content. It has a return visit rate of 80 percent and more than 300,000 people have downloaded it.